When it comes to organisational metadata, there is a blindspot!
A core objective for marketing is to make sure their organisation stands out from the digital crowd. Most organisations and their marketing departments understand that in order to be ‘found’ by search engines, they need to regard the holy grail of search engine optimisation (SEO) as a key task. If the page metadata (data about data, in this case date summarising the salient content of the web page) is missing or inadequate, then the search engines will either not pick the page up or it will be listed on page 1.234.557 of the presented search results.
This concept is generally understood at board level.
Organisations do not seem to realise that the same applies to their operational data, nor what the implications of this might be:
- If no metadata exists, the data itself will be harder to find – it will be ‘overlooked’ by search, analysis and reporting;
- If the metadata is inconsistent, or does not correctly describe the data – search, analysis and reporting will produce incorrect information;
- If the metadata does not follow a standardised ontology it will be harder to differentiate ‘long tail’ aspects of the data and so it will be difficult to pick out relevancy from the noise;
- If the metadata is not present or accessible in a packaged application, or its meaning is not clear from the accompanying data dictionary, your migration will stall without full and complete understanding of the metadata as this is essential to comprehending what data is to be migrated;
- In the digital age, data is a sought after corporate asset. Without adequate metadata, its value will be substantially reduced as it will be less usable and repurposable for new apps, new marketing initiatives, product upsell or cross-sell, compliance tasks, data mart product, new projects or new tech;
- If metadata as a concept is poorly understood, the organisation may be missing out on valuable feedback from the business, from its customers and from observed analytic results. Like data, metadata too has a lifecycle post initial user creation, and can be enriched by alternative metadata.
Without quality metadata, data will be hard to find or use, and information deduced from that data will be less accurate. This means hidden and opportunity costs which will impact future project costs and dilute data asset value. It can also impact the confidence senior executives will have in their decisions, which could be founded on unreliable analytics.